Wednesday, July 12, 2006

flag from codyco

FLAG AMENDMENT- Who's your leader, who's your leader, who's your leader

A proposed Constitutional amendment that would have allowed the Congress to prohibit desecration of the United States Flag has failed by one vote. The close, by the hair of our collective chinny chin chin's vote is good news, but also, a chilling reminder that in these times of hair brain political cabarets and get a vote by any means thinking, all moves are possible, as the land of liberty toys with some of its most fundamental ideas, including, one of the most sacred values of all, freedom of speech. And, as has been shown by numerous media hog public figures who hide behind thin masks of patriotism, symbols that are easily worn as a demonstration of dedication to a deeper principal or cause, can end up cheapening the true, complicated, hard fought and sacred values of what those symbols are meant to represent.

Since the horrible days right after 9/11, plenty of politicians have taken to wearing flag lapels. The last Republican convention looked like an Oscar ceremony in the 90's when celebrities wore red ribbons in the earlier days of AIDS awareness campaigns. After a while, the ribbons seemed to almost cheapen their important message, in much the same way, the flag lapels have become an even cheaper self righteous fixture on the "I'm more patriotic than you" circuit.

But patriotism is not cheap. And, it certainly is not for sale at Tiffany. Nor, is it defined by the world's largest flag flying proudly at your local interstate car dealership or town hall. Instead, patriotism is more complex, and indeed filled with controversial, passionate definitions that are debated constantly in our beautiful freedom based Democracy. The American system of Democracy, served by a few real leaders and the dedicated souls who would like to believe in what they say, is one of the things that earns the nation's loyalty and ultimately its patriotism. The freedom to say, and express one's self, debate our policy and inform our public of the truth, is what America holds closest to its heart. God forbid that policy makers begin legislating what specific freedoms of expression are protected, and which are not. We would all be at the mercy of reactionary whims that could evolve faster than a 1970's mood ring (or a spooky assed color coded terror alert). The country survived the flag burning craze of the Vietnam era and there's no doubt that it will survive any burn, poo, rip or bleach desecration trends now. What it won't survive are politicians who claim to be leaders but instead pick up easy hot rock non-relevant issues on the campaign trail and try to write them into the Constitution, a document that more leaders should wear in their hearts and minds rather than a suit pocket or pretty blouse. (btw...although the red ribbons heightened awareness, the real test came when it was time to cough up a dollar to the cause)

Even if the Flag Amendment had passed, we would still have to watch, as citizens in other nations burn our flag, motivated by a real disdain for what we represent, not our current policies. Besides, in this war on terror, it's pretty easy to spot a smoke plume coming from a burning flag, I mean, if that's really what the war on terror is all about, who better to wiretap? (know your enemies warned Nixon)

It seems to me that a true example of patriotism is a politician who can stand and say, although it burns my buns, makes me sick, bites my soul, rips at my heart to see someone disrespect old Glory's stars and stripes....(GOT IT!)....I will still defend the right of any American to desecrate the flag because, that is what makes us seperate from the rest of the world. Unlike China, where...welllll, you get the picture.

Rhetoric that takes a difficult and non-reactionary path earns the respect of millions. It's that stance for freedom, no matter how distasteful, that takes pure ol wise political guts. Of course, that politician is then subject to the political wrath of cheap opponents and other less than savory groups who choose to steer voter's attention(s) away from real issues that truly affect a democracy, such as making sure that the principals the flag stands for, the comittment to liberty and justice for all are upheld. Of course, one can't wear either of those on a lapel or blouse, nor can it be sewn and flown in towns across America. The laws that protect the principals of Liberty and Justice flow down from the decisionmakers we call leaders.

A few politicians, like Medal of Honor winner Senator Daniel Inouye, a veteran of World War Two, took a stance against the ammendment idea.

The Senator from Hawaii displayed one of those increasingly rare moments when a politician ceases to be a "politician" and becomes a real "leader."

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